Steven Monjeza, left, and Tiwonge “Aunt Tiwo” Chimbalanga, after their arrest

After a tremendous outcry from LGBT and human rights activists around the world, a gay Malawi couple arrested after their wedding have been pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika. But within hours of being released, one of the men has gone missing, according to news reports.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, known as “Aunt Tiwo,” and his partner Steven Monjeza had been sentenced to 14 years of hard labor until the Malawi president stepped in and had them released on Saturday night, May 29. According to the website Zambian Watchdog, Malawi Prison Chief Macdonald Chaona said Chimbalanga was taken to his home village in Thyolo on Saturday night after being released but has not been heard from since.

His uncle, headman of the village, told reporters Chimbalanga had arrived at the village around 9 p.m., but had not been heard from since that time. His brother-in-law told reporters he had not seen Chimbalanga since his release, but that he knew the man had wanted to leave Malawi.

The lawyer who represented the couple said he had not seen either man since their release, and Monjeza also said he had not seen his partner.

Some sources said there had been concerns that the men could be in danger from those who opposed their relationships. Even in announcing the pardon, President Mutharika warned that homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, and the country’s Minister of Gender, Women and Children had warned that Chimbalanga and Monjeza could be re-arrested if they tried to continue their relationship after their release.

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